As he did in life, Squamish's Clinton Shard continues to spread positivity now that he is gone.
Shard, 29, passed away peacefully at his childhood home on April 30 this year.
Crohn's and Colitis Canada has launched an inaugural post-secondary scholarship in memory of Shard, a previous grant recipient.
The Clinton Shard Memorial $5,000 AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program grant will be bestowed annually.
Like seeds of flowers travelling by wind, Shard's legacy will spread to a new person each year.
Clinton was an inaugural AbbVie IBD grant recipient in 2012.
A news release, which announced this and 14 other annual grants, noted Shard's impact on others within the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community and outside of it.
"A giver in every sense of the word, a true lover of nature and the outdoors, and never let his disease define him. But above all else, he was a beacon of positivity and inspiration," reads the release.
Shard was diagnosed with Crohn's when he was 12.
"Clinton lived every day with the mindset that an IBD diagnosis should not stop anyone from achieving their goals. Not only has Clinton been an important member of the Canadian Crohn's and colitis community, given back and supported others, but he also celebrated several great achievements, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at age 16 and joining an expedition to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, the subsequent year."
His mom, while twirling a bracelet with a beautiful blue and white glass bead made by her son, notes that in typical fashion, Shard was thinking of others just before he died, beginning the process of setting up a grant to help others like himself.
Shard's family said he would be thrilled knowing a legacy scholarship was named after him and that it would provide someone else in the IBD community with opportunities such as he had.
The grant's inaugural winner is Hailey Rocha, who is studying at the University of Toronto.
According to Wendy, the family picked her as the recipient for her interest in child welfare, among other positive attributes.
Rocha told The Squamish Chief she was honoured to be chosen for several reasons.
“Everything that [Clinton] represented, reading about him, is what I aspire to and am trying to do in my own life, so it just really resonated with me.” she said, adding she felt alone when she was first diagnosed with colitis and seeing someone like Shard being able to achieve so much, made her feel less isolated and afraid.
Financially, the scholarship is a big help too, she added.
One of three daughters to a single mom, money has been tight, she said.
With the scholarship, she will be able to study and not also have to work a couple of jobs to pay for it.
Her academic goal is to be a child life specialist, which is someone who goes into the hospital to support kids who are there. They help explain the medical jargon around what is happening, keep the child company and bring what the child wants to be more comfortable, such as puzzles or books.
“I had a child life specialist when I was in the hospital for the first time. That made a really big difference,” she said. “It's really intimidating [in the hospital] so I just want to be that missing piece when kids are in there too.”
Wendy said she would love to meet the recipients to show them the Squamish Shard loved if she had the opportunity.
Shard’s family hopes folks in Squamish know how much this town and the many who supported Shard and his family meant to him.
"Clinton was able to be successful because of all the community of Squamish offered from the start of his Crohn's diagnosis," said his mom Wendy in a written statement to The Squamish Chief on behalf of the family, including dad Robert, brother Curtis, partner Jagger Buchner (and dog Wilson).
"His family was able to support him barrier-free because of all the support his family received from the community," the statement continues.
Though Shard had a chronic illness, he lived life to the absolute fullest, his family stressed.
"This would soon spread globally through his work and friendships he made along the way and his drive to make every day count."
Ultimately, Shard returned to the town he loved.
"Clinton loved to travel and travelled all over the world," his family said. "However, [he] returned to Squamish in his last year of life. He especially loved working in the tourism industry because he could share beautiful places tourists could explore in the corridor. He would see their excitement and awe of the beauty that surrounded us. He wanted to show that even if there were barriers, they could be overcome, and the beauty was there for everyone to explore and see."
Crohn's affects one in 140 (300,000) Canadians. Canada has one of the highest rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
To learn more about Crohn’s, go to Crohn's and Colitis Canada’s website.
To learn more about the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program and the recipients, go to ibdscholarship.ca.